Thursday, 30 October 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, September 25, 2014

President Aquino concludes U.S. trip

(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III has concluded his five-day working visit to the United States, bringing with him some good news in terms of fresh investments from various companies upon his return to Manila.

President Aquino left San Francisco International Airport at about 4:40 pm on Wednesday, Pacific time, via a Philippine Airlines chartered flight.

Prior to his departure, the President held two quick business meetings with the top executives of Caesars Entertainment Corporation, International Development, and Wells Fargo Bank.

The meetings served as his 93rd and 94th engagements respectively, bridging all the scheduled activities he had for almost two weeks from Europe to the US.

President Aquino is expected to arrive in Manila at about 10:00 pm on Thursday with a possible announcement regarding the results of his successful working visits to Spain, Belgium, France, Germany, and the United States. PND (hdc)

Philippines’ Grassroots Budgeting program wins award in New York

MalacaƱang announced that the Philippines’ Grassroots Participatory Budgeting (GPB) program has won third place in the 2014 Open Government Awards presented during the Open Government Partnership (OGP) high-level event in New York on Wednesday.

Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman accepted the award, Deputy Spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters during Thursday’s press briefing at the Palace.

The top two places went to Denmark and Montenegro, respectively.

“In her acceptance speech, Secretary Dinky Soliman expressed our government’s appreciation to the OGP for recognizing the GPB program,” Valte said. “The award affirms the efforts of those working in government, both national and local, as well as those in the many civil society organizations and communities that invested time and resources to establishing this program.”

The OGP’s 1st Open Government Awards recognized innovative programs that expand and deepen citizen engagement.

“The GPB program is revolutionary because it offers an alternative to the usual top-down approach to budgeting by allowing communities and local government units to identify and advocate for their own projects, as deemed beneficial to their community, and which will be funded by the national government,” she said.

She noted that this is the second year in a row that the country has won an award.

Last year, the Citizen Participatory Audit—a joint Commission on Audit-civil society project that audits government performance—won the Bright Spots Award at the OGP Summit held in London, she said.

The OGP is a movement comprised of 64 governments, and international and national civil society organizations with the common objective of deepening the practice of open government across its member countries.

All member countries are required to commit to make their respective governments more transparent, participatory, and accountable.

“The Philippines is a founding member of the OGP and currently sits on its Steering Committee. We have crafted our second OGP Action Plan, which contains nine commitments, including the GPB program, the passage of the Freedom of Information Act, and Open Data Philippines,” Valte said. PND (ag)

Raising West Philippine Sea issue in Europe was appropriate, says Palace official

A MalacaƱang official on Thursday defended President Benigno S. Aquino III’s move to raise the West Philippine Sea issue in Europe.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters during a press briefing that considering the importance of the West Philippine Sea as an international trade route, it was appropriate for the President to bring up the issue in the European countries he recently visited.

“It is a concern for a lot of countries and you’ve seen the support that the President was able to get from the countries that he was able to visit,” Valte said when asked if it was justified for the President to bring the issue to Europe.

“Kung hindi ito nai-raise ng Pangulo, given na isa ito sa mga malaking isyu na hinaharap ng ating bansa at isa sa mga malaking isyu din na interesado ang mga kaibigan natin sa labas, kung hindi po ito nai-raise ng Pangulo ay malamang matatanong din ang Pangulo tungkol dito,” she explained.

Manila and Beijing are quarreling over the cluster of islands in the West Philippine Sea, with both laying claim to the Kalayaan Group of Islands, Ayungin and Scarborough Shoals.

On March 30, the Philippines filed a memorial with the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) against China, which has refused to participate in any international arbitration. PND (ag)